If there’s one aspect of digital marketing that changes faster than any other, it may be search engine optimization (SEO). While the goal of the search engines remains the same—to reward websites that provide content that searchers want and need—the rules they build into their algorithms seem to be in almost constant flux. So what do you need to know in 2018?
Anyone who has spent much time playing the game of search engine optimization (SEO) surely knows that it can be a difficult game to win, largely because the rules of the game keep changing. Certainly, the days of black-hat tactics and underhanded efforts to coerce your way to the top of Google search results are gone. Yet, virtually everyone we encounter is convinced that they NEED to be on page one–of course, they are not alone. Recent surveys show that increasing website traffic is one of the top priorities for most marketers these days which largely means improving search engine rankings. However, with over a BILLION websites out there and only 10 organic slots on any Google search results page, it is a mathematical impossibility for all of them to be on page one.
One of the core elements of inbound marketing is the thoughtful, constructive, and strategic use of keywords. Keywords are first and foremost the words or phrases that users enter into search engines when they are attempting to find information or a company's website they are interested in. Understanding keywords and how they are used is critically important to any inbound marketing effort. Because these words and expressions are a reflection of interest on the part of the searcher, they are also critical to search engines' logic, and must therefore be a critical element of the inbound marketer's strategy.
HubSpot's annual research report of 4,500 marketers worldwide reveals a lot of good news for inbound marketing practitioners. Most notably, it once again shows that inbound marketing is growing in both prominence and effectiveness. Interestingly, those who self-identify as outbound marketers largely acknowledge many of the shortcomings that have led to the growth of inbound marketing. Only 17% of marketers say outbound practices (e.g. cold calling, TV/outdoor ads, trade shows, purchased lists) provide the highest quality leads for their sales team. But as outbound marketers begin to shift priorities to more inbound techniques, it is apparent that there is still a gap between outbound marketers' priorities and the priorities of accomplished inbound marketers.
SEO Remains a Top Priority for Marketers ... But What Does That Mean for a Modern Marketer's Search Strategy?
HubSpot’s State of Inbound report is always enlightening. The just-released 2016 edition is no exception. It’s filled with insights from more than 4,500 survey respondents, the majority of whom are not HubSpot customers. And as an acknowledged fan of the company, I have to say it’s very much like them to seek the opinions of customers and non-customers alike. HubSpot wants to continue to have the most effective marketing platform possible, and that means they have to look at the big picture and not simply focus on the people currently using their system.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to increase traffic to your website without spending oodles of money on Pay-Per-Click advertising. When working on SEO, companies rightfully invest a great deal of time in analyzing their offering and their market to determine the keywords that should be used on their website to attract prospects.
Author of The Content Code and overall marketing guru, Mark Schaefer, has written hundreds of pages on the art of standing out in a saturated niche and the secret sauce it takes to create shareable content. If you choose to stick with his latest and greatest book to the very, very end, you'll be rewarded with what could be said is the most important lesson of all. Lucky for you, we already did the hard part.
Google continually updates the algorithms it uses to evaluate websites and determine their rank for organic search results. Other search engines do the same. But regardless of how the algorithms evolve, one characteristic that seems to always be given a high value in the calculating of a site’s "popularity" and “authority” is the number of links to it from other sites. While “linkbaiting” has, at times, had negative connotations due to the underhanded strategies employed by some companies, it is nevertheless an important aspect of SEO if you do it properly.
While I used to be one of those hunt-and-peck kind of guys at the keyboard, my typing has improved dramatically over the years. But even at my new near-lightning speed, with both hands flying, I couldn’t seem to find our 30dps website in a recent Google search using every imaginable combination of “Colorado Springs custom app developers.” And it didn’t matter how many pages deep I went. While we have long fared pretty well with search engine optimization (SEO) on our primary keywords, we just didn’t do nearly as well on the custom app side. The good news is that we’ve made tremendous progress since that search. We’re currently at the bottom of page one (one of our case studies) and the top of page two (our website), and rising fast.
Simply stated, SEO is the process of refining your website so that it ranks as well as possible with search engines. It is considered the "free" way to get to the top of search engines. The real truth is that SEO takes a substantial commitment in time, effort, and expertise, so it can get expensive... but it can prove to be well worth the effort.